Trump Set to Do What Obama Couldn’t: Renegotiate NAFTA

By NTK Staff | 01.24.2017 @3:58pm
Trump Set to Do What Obama Couldn’t: Renegotiate NAFTA

TPP is dead and renegotiating NAFTA is next for President Trump’s trade agenda…

As it was during the 2016 campaign, trade is a hot topic in the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency. Long a vocal opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), one of President Trump’s first executive actions was to formally end the United States’ involvement in the trade deal.

Given the bitter partisanship that Washington, D.C. finds itself engulfed in, it’s surprising the move was praised by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and firebrand liberal Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

In an op-ed published Tuesday, Trumka immediately pivoted to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trade deal with Mexico and Canada that he blames for “shuttered factories and rusted-out schools, in desolate town squares and abandoned homes.”

To be sure, trade makes for strange political bedfellows. Hillary Clinton, who once supported NAFTA, which was strongly supported by her husband, flip-flopped in 2008 when she ran for president against then-Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama pledged in 2008 to “use the hammer of a potential opt-out [of NAFTA] as leverage” to get what he wanted out of the deal. Ultimately, that never happened, though TPP was designed to be the panacea to NAFTA’s ills. Unfortunately for Obama, nobody (least of all fellow Democrats) bought it:

Obama is pushing to complete the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would link North America with Asian countries like Japan. But to get his way, the president will have to sell the American public and the congressional leaders of his own party on the notion that the deal is an escape from NAFTA’s mistakes, rather than just an expansion of its reach.

The trick? More than 150 House and Senate Republicans voted in favor of NAFTA and many still support it today. But given Trump’s wins in manufacturing states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, his plans to renegotiate the deal that many union workers fault for diminished job opportunities and wages are no surprise.

Trump has indicated he soon plans to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, both of whom have indicated they are open to renegotiation.

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